Fossil bee: the right place and the right time

Amber from a mine in Myanmar generates a steady income from sales to palaeoentomologists, each bead of the lithified resin being a possible lagerstätte in its own right. Two scientists at Oregon State University and Cornell were fortunate enough to find a small, Early Cretaceous bee that is so well-preserved as to show even the leg hairs on which bees carry pollen (Poinar, G.O. & Danforth, B.N. 2006. A fossil been from Early Cretaceous Burmese amber. Science, v. 314, p. 614). Indeed, the hairs carry several grains of pollen. This is the oldest known bee by more than 35 Ma, and it coincides with the start of the explosive radiation of flowering plants.

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